La Salette in Bassfield, Mississippi

Untitled 1Fr. Bernard F. Reilly, M.S. (1907-1968)

Editor: Reaching back in time, we produce the original article about the beginning of our ministry in Bassfield, Mississippi in 1936. The remarks of Fr. Bernard Reilly were startlingly poignant. In fact, in the true missionary spirit, the La Salette Missionaries did not take a stipend from this impoverished parish and its missions during our years of service in Bassfield.
On September 1, 1935, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette took charge of St. Peter's Church, Bassfield, Mississippi, in the Diocese of Natchez, at the kind invitation of the Most Reverend Bishop Richard Oliver Gerow, D.D. Reverend Bernard Reilly, M. S., a native of Waterbury, Connecticut, and formerly pastor of St. Patrick's Church, Lufkin, Texas, has been appointed pastor and director of the new foundation, with Reverend Francis Lundgren, M. S., of Bristol, Connecticut, as Assistant. 

Bassfield, Missisippi, September 15, 1936.

Dear Father:

In your last issue, you mentioned that the La Salette Fathers were taking charge of a new foundation at Bassfield, Mississippi. Lest you have any false impressions of this place, I would like to tell you a few experiences of our first days in Mississippi. 

To begin with, I was rather skeptical of the sort of welcome we might receive when the people should find out that both Father Lundgren and I are Connecticut Yankees. The parish, you know, is in the heart of the old South – in Jefferson Davis County, suh (that is, “sir” in southern dialect)! I had half resolved to forget the land of my birth and simply tell the people I came from Texas.

Read more: La Salette in Bassfield, Mississippi

New Retreat Center Director Comes Full Circle

When Father Bernard Baris, M.S., was named director of La Salette’s Retreat Center in Attleboro, MA., in May of 2016, he found himself back in familiar territory.

“Ever since I could remember, I wanted to become a priest,” recalled Father Baris. “My grandparents used to come every Sunday to the shrine, be part of the Liturgy processions and all that, and so I grew up hearing nothing but La Salette. When it came time for me to make a decision to follow my vocation into the priesthood, it was natural that I would be part of La Salette.”

Read more: New Retreat Center Director Comes Full Circle

National Native American Parish

On July 14, 2017, Isabel and I went to the Sycuan Indian Reservation to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Parish of St. Kateri Tekakwitha on the day when the Church in the United States celebrates the solemnity of St. Kateri.

We are inspired to put a small part of the story of this parish into the public domain of the La Salette Missionaries because it is in their hegemony that this dedication took place.

Read more: National Native American Parish

La Salette in Argentina

Editor: Eugenia is a committed member of the group of La Salette Associates in Attleboro, Massachusetts and speaks Spanish and English.

This following brief 50-second video is from the Diaconal Ordination of Bro. Diego Diaz, M.S. (shown below in this article), with the imposition of hands of Auxiliary Bishop Pedro Torres, on November 6, 2016 at the Regional House of the Missionaries of La Salette in Cordoba, Argentina. His mother vests him after his ordination as a deacon.

We had the wonderful experience of attending the meeting of the La Salette Missionaries and Laity in Cordoba, Argentina from January 23-31, 2017. Traveling with Fr. Ray Cadran of the Provincial Council, we had a pleasant and uneventful 15-hour journey from Attleboro.

Read more: La Salette in Argentina

Racism and Our Faith

Untitled 1grave of James Byrd, Jr. in cemetery in Jasper, TexasOn September 15, 1963, four African-American girls were killed when dynamite exploded outside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Reacting to this tragedy, Dudley Randall wrote the poem, "The Ballad of Birmingham" which presents the perspective of the mother of one of the victims. She refuses to allow her daughter to march against racism, for fear of the police, with their dogs, clubs and hoses. In the poem she writes;

"No, baby, no you may not go
For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead
And sing in the children's choir."

The irony here is chilling for you and I remember what happened next. The
poem continues:

"For when she heard the explosion.
Her eyes grew wet and wild.
She raced through the streets of Birmingham
Calling for her child."

For me, this poem testifies to the truth that it is not possible to run away from evil because it will follow us and will not go away on its own. I believe racism is a particular form of evil which must be destroyed if we are ever to live together in peace in our society. For there really can be no hiding place in the struggle against an evil such as racism. Moments of decision are forced upon us and we must decide courageously how we will act.

A Hate Crime Happens in Our Own Small Town

Little did I realize in early June of 1998 that this evil of racism would so affect my life and the lives of the townspeople of Jasper, Texas. For early on Sunday morning, June 7, 1998, a hate crime took place on a deserted road just outside our town that shocked us as a community and as a nation and changed our lives forever.

Read more: Racism and Our Faith

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